LPG Spotlight: Blackburn Propane

August 3, 2018 By    
Photo courtesy of Paula Moore

Photo courtesy of Paula Moore

Propane retailers are always looking for new ways to grow gallons and increase sales. That often means knowing what is happening in your community and creating relationships with business owners who could potentially use your product. It also means occasionally stumbling across a gallon-growth opportunity in an unlikely place.

About a year and a half ago, Blackburn Propane partnered with an aquaponic greenhouse to supply fuel to heat the facility. The growers use no fertilizers or chemicals on any of their produce. In this case, fish, specifically tilapia, are used to fertilize the plants. Once the fish reach a specific weight, they are farmed and sold.

“To be honest with you, it all started at the beauty shop,” says Darron Moore, general manager of Blackburn Propane.

Paula Moore, owner of Blackburn Propane, heard from her hairdresser about an aquaponic greenhouse project in the company’s service territory. She says she immediately saw it as a great opportunity to grow gallons.

“When you hear of something new, you have to take those steps to find out how propane can play a part in it,” Paula Moore says.

The project is only about half completed, so Blackburn Propane doesn’t yet know exactly how many gallons the greenhouse will burn, but both Paula and Darron Moore feel the project is worth the time and investment.

“They [the greenhouses] are expensive to build,” Darron Moore says. “It’s kind of like the autogas market. You push it hard, but it takes forever to make it happen.”

According to Darron Moore, the owners of the greenhouse plan to build a co-op of facilities and have said they will use Blackburn Propane as their fuel provider for all of the greenhouses.

Propane is used to heat the air in the greenhouses, which must be maintained at a constant temperature to ensure healthy plant growth and aquatic life. Propane is the ideal fuel for heating these greenhouses because it burns cleanly and is more efficient than electric heating.

The greenhouse owners will use the facilities to grow different varieties of leaf lettuce, which grows best at temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees F.

The greenhouse is a sterile environment because there is no soil in it. According to Paula Moore, you don’t go into the greenhouse unless your hair is covered and you are wearing booties. In such a clean environment, a clean-burning fuel like propane is the ideal choice.

As hydroponic and aquaponic greenhouses become more popular, this market could prove to be an important area of gallon growth for propane retailers. According to Paula Moore, it’s important to make one-on-one connections with builders or growers to promote your product and capitalize on this opportunity.

“You just have to be available in your community,” says Darron Moore. “You have to preach the benefits to farmers about propane.”

Blackburn Propane

  • Founded: 1960
  • Headquarters: Calera, Oklahoma
  • Owner: Paula Moore
  • Employees: 14
  • Bobtails: 9
  • Website: blackburnlpg.com

About the Author:

Clara Richter is the managing editor at LP Gas magazine. Contact her at crichter@northcoastmedia.net or 216-363-7920.

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